Building Blocks of Wellness #4: Mindfulness

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Today’s post is the fourth in a series of articles on what I call the Four Building Blocks of Wellness: Community, Nutrition, Movement and Mindfulness.

One of the things that I’ve noticed throughout my life is that those of us who enjoy life, who are happy most of the time, who don’t let setbacks, big or small, derail us, have some things in common: We lead balanced lives in what I call the 4 Building Blocks of Wellness. Those four building blocks are community, nutrition, movement and mindfulness.

While each of us has within us the ability to be happy, yet many of us are not. Does that mean we don’t want to be happy? Not necessarily. That may just mean we lack the tools that will help us create that happy life. My hope is that information I share with you will give you a more complete toolbox.

I believe that each of the four building blocks are equally important. That’s where the “balance” comes in to play. And while I have no formal training in community, nutrition or movement (a proud alumni of “The School of Hard Knocks”), I am a certified mindfulness guide, and have led hundreds of guided meditations along with several retreats and other mindfulness activities. I can help in this area and if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out.

Mindfulness is oftentimes misunderstood. It’s sort of a vague term. I mean, what does it even mean when someone talks about mindfulness?

Jon Kabat-Zinn, who pioneered medical research into mindfulness and the practice of meditation and developed Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction in the 1970s defines mindfulness this way: “Paying attention in a particular way on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.” That’s a bit of a mouthful for me, so I like to think of mindfulness as the act of quieting the mind or simply present moment awareness.

In my opinion, the best way to cultivate mindfulness is through a regular meditation practice. While this should be a formal, everyday practice, it needn’t be difficult or time consuming. All the old rules about meditation are out the window. You can meditate for just 10 minutes a day, sitting on the floor or in a chair, whatever is easiest for you. The point is, just do it, and do it regularly. Create that meditation habit. And while you’re at it, try different types of meditation to find one that resonates with you. Remember, the more consistent your practice, the easier it gets, just like anything else. Find a regular time each day and a special place that works for you and just do it!

As human beings, we are hard wired to always think. In our evolutionary days we were thinking about how we were going to get our next meal, how to escape danger or how to find a mate. Today, you can add how we’re going to pay our bills, how we stay healthy and how we’re going to figure out the newest technology. Add to that all those outside distractions like noises (“I can’t hear myself think”) and social media, as well as physical sensations. It’s no wonder we have such problems quieting the mind.

Why do we even want to quiet the mind, I mean for what purpose? Mindfulness has been credited with a bevy of benefits, everything from stress reduction to pain reduction and there’s mountains for research to substantiate those claims. My three favorite benefits are:

  • You get to control your thoughts and emotions, not the other way around.
  • You have increased compassion for your fellow human beings (think greater peace).
  • Mindfulness makes you happier.

So you see, this is what makes mindfulness one of the 4 Building Block of Wellness. If you don’t have a regular meditation practice, you owe it to yourself to start right now. Don’t know where to start? There are tons of resources on line, including right here at Mindful Café. Take a listen to one of my guided meditation audio recordings, or join the Café Community and one of our live Zoom meditation groups. You can try it out free for 2 weeks, so what do you have to lose?

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